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Steps to register a company in Singapore

Establishing a company in Singapore can be an exciting endeavour. Whether you are a local Singaporean or a foreigner, specific guidelines and requirements exist that business owners must fulfil to register a company. However, there are also some key differences in the business registration process for locals and foreigners, which can impact the timeline and complexity of the procedure. 

Nonetheless, with the right guidance and preparation, entrepreneurs from all backgrounds can successfully register their companies in Singapore and take advantage of the opportunities presented here. 

Learn More: Which Business Structures In Singapore Should I Choose? 

1. Review And Understand Singapore’s Registration Guidelines and Requirements

Before registering for a company in Singapore, it is important to first understand the guidelines and requirements set by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) which covers the legal structure of a company, the registration process, and the fees involved. 

For a local Singaporean, this step might be easier as most may already be familiar with the local business laws and regulations. However, as a foreigner, learning these guidelines is extremely essential before proceeding to start a business here. This can involve researching the relevant laws and regulations, or seeking the guidance of professional services firms that specialise in Singapore company registration for foreign entrepreneurs.

Foreign entrepreneurs who wish to set up a company in Singapore and stay in the country must also check if they qualify to apply for the Employment Pass or ONE Pass.

2. Collect Supporting Documents and Determine Your Corporate Structure

Once the guidelines have been reviewed, the next step is to collect the necessary documents (which should include your passport, proof of address, and proof of business activities) and determine the structure of your business (whether you want to register a sole proprietorship, partnership, or private limited company). 

Although this step might be simple for a Singaporean as some of the documents are readily available, a foreigner may need to provide additional papers, such as a work permit or visa. 

3. Confirm The Availability Of Your Company Name

Singapore has strict rules when it comes to naming a company, confirming that the chosen name is not already taken and does not violate any rules or regulations. While a local may be familiar with Singaporean naming conventions, a foreigner may need to consult with a local expert to ensure compliance. 

You can use our free tool to check the availability of your desired company name here: https://www.paulhypepage.com/singapore-company-registration/#Company-Name-Checker 

4. Sign Incorporation Documents

After finalising the company name, signing your Singapore company incorporation documents comes next. This includes the Memorandum and Articles of Association (MAA) as well as appointing directors and shareholders for your business. A Singaporean may already have their own network of trusted contacts that can serve as directors and shareholders, or even themselves, but a foreigner may need to seek out local partners or engage the services of a professional firm. 

In this case, a nominee director must be appointed if the foreign entrepreneur does not have or qualify for a work visa. 

5. Incorporate Your Company and Open A Bank Account

The final step is to incorporate the company and open a corporate bank account for the business which involves submitting the incorporation documents to ACRA and obtaining the Certificate of Incorporation. A local bank account should also be opened for the company in Singapore to facilitate business transactions. 

A local Singaporean may already have a relationship with a bank, while a foreigner may need to do some research to find a financial institution that can meet their business needs. Professional firms guide you through this process and ensure that all necessary steps are taken to successfully register your company in Singapore.

Applying For The MRA Grant

Considering expanding globally? Applying for the Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant offered by the Singapore government is a great first step. The grant is designed to cover up to 70% of eligible costs, such as market research and business development expenses, a significant financial support for SMEs looking to expand globally.

However, here are the following criteria that must be met by a Singaporean to apply for the MRA grant:

  • Global headquarters should be in Singapore, meaning the company must have a significant presence and operations here. 

  • The annual turnover of the company must be less than S$100 million annually, supporting SMEs rather than large corporations.

  • At least 30% of local shareholding 

  • Below S$100,000 in overseas sales in each of the last 3 preceding years for the new target market

Foreigners who wish to apply for this grant must incorporate a Singaporean subsidiary or register a branch office in Singapore. In addition, they should have a Singaporean as a shareholder who owns at least 30% of the company to be eligible, as stated above. 

With the right guidance and preparation, registering a company in Singapore can be a smooth and straightforward process, regardless of whether you are a local Singaporean or a foreigner. Expanding a business globally is also made easy now thanks to the MRA grant that provides significant financial assistance and opportunities to SMEs who wish to grow and succeed in Singapore and beyond

If you would like to know more about the incorporation services in Singapore, do contact us at Paul Hype Page & Co and we would be more than happy to help answer your inquiries.

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